Nintendo Talks Secrets & Wii Peripherals
Top bod at Nintendo's Japanese headquarters discusses the strategy of keeping secrets and says Nintendo will make whatever controllers for Wii that gamers demand. Plus: Animal Crossing Wii and Mario 128.
Nintendo's famous ability to keep its secrets confidential is because of a stringent security process at its Kyoto headquarters, says twenty-year veteran at the company Katsuya Eguchi. "With regards to Wii, we kept information very close... it was on a need-to-know basis", he revealed in a new video interview with Kikizo. "Those involved in development knew [only] the details they needed to know."
Top-secret information scarcely even made it to Nintendo's overseas offices: "Even within NCL, for example the speaker that's in the controller, we wanted to reveal that information at E3, so the only people who knew were the sound designer and the hardware designer, and those people who were very close to the project - people only found out on a need-to-know basis."
One of the final Wii secrets to emerge the day before E3 was a small speaker, included on the controller itself. "Having audio feedback in the player's hands is a first for games, so we're very excited about that", explaines Eguchi. "With the Wii remote in one hand and the Nunchuck in the other, and you've got the motion sensor, the accelerometer and the pointer, and having that added sound effect when your sword strikes something, it will just build on that player's experience."
"In addition to increasing that realistic feel of the game, when you're playing a multiplayer game, sometimes it's hard to tell which player you are on the screen, and that speaker could also remind the player which one they are... there are various applications."
Eguchi-san, who is working on the next Animal Crossing game, also described how another 'final secret' - the machine's sneaky standby mode that keeps Wii busy even when it's switched 'off' - will benefit the wild world of Tom Nook and co. "Through Wii Connect 24, the power on the Wii itself will still be on, except a small portion of the machine will be running, [allowing it] to communicate online. With the example of Animal Crossing, one of the things that might be possible is even while the player isn't actively playing in their town, a friend of theirs could come and visit their town and for instance leave them a letter or a gift."
"Another application might be someone could send a letter from their cellphone or from an email address on a PC to the Wii, and then the player living in the town in Animal Crossing could receive that letter." Who needs Live Anywhere, when Wii looks like it will be doing all that and let you catch butterflies at the same time...
We asked what the deal was going to be for users with existing Friend Codes. "There probably will be Friend Codes for the Wii version, however we're not so sure about compatibility [with previous Animal Crossing codes], so it's most likely that everyone will be using new codes."
One aspect of Wii that we're only beginning to scratch at the surface of is the potential for new controller devices and add-ons to interoperate with the Wii remote. A light-gun 'zapper' mock-up has been shown, but Eguchi explained there'll be much more on the way:
"I could give you my ideas of [Wii controller attachments] that are possible, but that might end up becoming a product, so right now I can't really say. Of course, if software calls for a light-gun, we'll make a light-gun. If the software requires a guitar, then maybe we'll make a guitar. Our number one priority is always to provide the ultimate gameplay experience, so if the game requires a peripheral, then we'll supply a peripheral. It's all about the end user's experience, and that's the top priority for us."
Eguchi is also working on Wii Sports and Wii Music, as well as Star Fox DS. But we had a burning question about a certain other Wii title confirmed last month. Is Mario Galaxy the same project we've previously known as Mario 128, or a separate that has more recently been in development? "It's a different thing," said Eguchi, "Galaxy is Galaxy, and 128 was a demo - I don't know." We pushed for more detail, pointing out that Shigeru Miyamoto has spoken on record on many occasions about Mario 128 as a specific game for GameCube and then for 'Revolution', not just a GameCube tech demo from back at Spaceworld 2000. What happened?
"Better to ask Miyamoto-san about that one! Mario Galaxy will come out on Wii, and after that, I can't say that another Mario won't come out. That may turn out to be '128', or it may become a different Mario game. For now, we'll release what we've developed, and after that, it depends on what the team decides. That's when we'll think about another Mario, but at this time, we don't know." We'll bring you updates on this.
Another hot topic in the run-up to any console launch is thirdparty development. How can Nintendo make sure that thirdparties get high quality results with the controller? "Because the Wii controller is such a new device, Nintendo is of course going to have more know-how than the thirdparty developers. We're very supportive in supplying them with know-how and libraries necessary for them to create the games, and utilise he controller to its fullest."
And, agreeing with executives like Sony's Phil Harrison as well as his colleagues at Nintendo, Eguchi played down any sort of connection between the respective controllers for Wii and PlayStation 3. "There's a significant difference between the Wii controller and the PS3 controller. If we're just talking about the motion sensor, with the Wii there are two parts to the controller; each hand can move freely... but with the PS3 controller both of your hands are kind of stuck, and I get the feeling that will limit freedom of movement."
There wasn't much hesitation within the company to go with such a radical new way of playing either. "The groups that are actually developing knew how the system works and knew how much fun it is, and even those people who aren't hands-on in development, when they walk down the halls of the office and they see someone playing Tennis, they'll join right in... I approach every project with just that much more excitement."
He concluded, "I want users to experience the 'newness' - the feeling of actually being in a tennis game and actually swinging a bat in a ball field. I don't feel like I'm controlling a character within a game, I feel like I'm actually on the court swinging a tennis racquet, and I want users to experience this."